I am tired and frustrated…

It is with hands clasped in prayer and with much gratitude which I  greet you.
I had one of those days today and yesterday and the day before. It is what it is. I expect to have some of “those” days from tinme to time.
My frustration is not with “those” days. My frustration is with “those” people with whom  I am forced to interact and those with whom I choose to interact. It is with their rudeness, self-importance, disrespect and failure to acknowledge another or their own indiscretion.
I see others smile infrequently. When I smile, I am often asked, “Why are you in such a good mood?” or “Why are you smiling?” I smile often and frequently because it helps pick up my mood when I am feeling down. I smile because it helps others to pick up their mood when they are feeling down.
I read this quote from the Dalai Lama. He said, “When you help others, do so out of respect. Don’t look down on them. Serve other human beings with a compassionate intent.” I do this frequently. I would say “all of the time” and more than likely be accurate but I am not perfect. I do have a pretty intact value system which does not allow me to treat others poorly and disrespectfully regardless of what is going in their life without feeling intense pangs of guilt. It’s my moral compass, my true north.
I have but one question…”Why can’t others do the same?” I would even find it acceptable if the guy who sits in the hall who I walk by and say “Hi” would return this simple acknowledgement. It really is the “little things.” I don’t need a million dollars to be happy. A smile, a tip of the hat, a “good day to you” from time-to-time would be nice.
I have a hope for all of my readers…HAVE AN AMAZING DAY! Help others to have an amazing day. It really doesn’t take much. You don’t need to pay it forward in the coffee line, although that would be nice. Let’s just try to each be a little bit nice to each other throughout the day.

My early morning run

It is with hands clasped together in gratitude which I greet this morning. I woke for my run and hearing rain continue to pelt the roof decide to return to bed. The thought of an early morning run escaping as I fade back to sleep. Before I return to sleep, I have this thought, these thoughts about the importance of running early in the morning which I need to capture. as with other ideas, I remind myself if they remain when I wake, they are worth putting pen to paper.

It used to be I ran when I could make the time. Usually, this was after work. I still run when I have time only now it is early in the morning.

I rise not at the “crack of dawn” for that would be at least two hours later. I rise at 4:00 AM, a time when most people haven’t even thought about rising to do anything, let alone go for a run.
For the most part, I have always been an early riser, a morning person. I have never been a lover of people. The changes in society have solidified my rank as King of the early risers. I have no desire, not even a little to face the onslaught of cars as they roll through stop signs and barely slow at a stop light. I enjoy my life and running too much to much to place myself in harms way.

I run early in the morning for a number of reasons…the air is cleaner and carries little noise other than my own breathing and footsteps. I enjoy the solitude and anonymity which is part of the ubiquitousness of the dark. I also enjoy the gratitude which allows me to start each morning being thankful with each breath. This may sound cliche but having a father who’s legs were taken from him by Polio and who for the last decade has been unable to walk let alone bear his own weight, I am very thankful for the ability to rise early, draw a breath and leave the comfort of a warm, comfortable bed and go for a run.

Rising early is not always easy for me. Most days it is a chore. Others hear of my early morning jaunts around the city and say, “Well, you’re a morning person. That’s easy for you.” On the contrary. Despite being a “morning person” leaving the comfort of my bed especially during a cold winter’s night which remains ongoing at this sometimes ungodly hour of the morning. I argue with myself for a few minutes convincing myself that when I complete my run I will feel better and have more energy to help me through the day. Often I’ll have a private conversation with a photograph of Rob Krar on my wall asking if Rob despite his fight with depression would remain in bed. Sometimes it is a quote by Marsha Doble which enters my thoughts. Marsha said, “I have to exercise in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing.”

Even more important is knowing I have accomplished more in 90-minutes of running than most will accomplish in their day. Sometimes I lose the argument although this is rare. This morning, despite temperatures in the Buffalo area which have remained unseasonably high, I rose with my alarm and decided, without argument to retreat to the comfort provided by my bed. Other than being greeted by my alarm, I was also greeted by rain  which appeared to have not ceased since I went to bed the night before. I enjoy running in the rain, but there is a difference between a cold rain in December and the warm rains of spring and summer.


Sunday morning runs have a special feeling all their own. I used to complete a long run on Saturday and didn’t enjoy the feeling of running and competing with cars and their drivers. You would think people would sleep in on Saturday…not so much as Sunday. My Sunday morning runs straddle the competing worlds of dark and light. Part way through a 15-mile run there is enough light that my headlamp is no longer a necessity. I am now exposed for all the world to see. As darkness gives way to light it becomes easy to see I am still relatively alone in the world. The solitude which I have discovered and made my own remains my own save for the occasional passing car or the even less frequent runner. If the weather permits, I am greeted by an amazing sunrise. I say amazing because this is the Northeast and amazing sunrises are not as numerous and I am afraid taken from granted as they may be in Florida. They are scarce and thus much more important to me. They also remind me of my grandmother and time spent with her in life and in death as I was with her when she passed at this magical time of day. There is something special about catching those first rays of sunshine and basking in their glory while others remain fast asleep.


This straddling of the dark and lighted worlds gives me the same amount of joy as does running in the darkness. It allows me to return home with the thought of a hot cup of coffee on my back porch while I enjoy the solitude which remains and which I know will escape and be lost as the hands of the clock inform me the time continues to progress despite me desire that it remains still if even for a few minutes.



Today I went “sauntering.” Henry David does a much better job of explaining the definition of this fine word than I so I will allow him the effort. “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of walking, that is, of taking walks – who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” A Saunterer, A Holdy Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are in deed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which therefore, in the good sense, will mean having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.” – Henry David Thoreau


As I watched the Sunday morning news, I found myself glancing toward the window several times to assess the weather. Each assessment rendered the same result; a cloudy, overcast sky. The news, now concluded offered me brief respite from the reality of the goings on in the world. I put down the Sunday Times and retrieved my camera from it’s hiding place in my camera bag in the basement. My camera has not seen the light of day in several months due in part to the excellent camera on my phone also an opportunity to work with Groupon left me feeling emotionally exhausted and with no desire to pick up the camera, let alone to make photographs.


I inserted a memory card, cleared the card of any photographs left over from a previous shoot and retrieved my hat, mittens and a cigar. I entered my car, clipped the end of the cigar and toasted the end before lighting the cigar and inhaling the fragrance of this fine smoke.

 I made the brief drive to the location where I wanted to shoot, parked my car and grabbed my gear. After turning on the camera, I set it to monochrome desiring to make every photograph in black and white. The overcast skies lent themselves to the simple beauty of monochrome as it allows the highlights and tones to stand out and speaks volumes regarding the mood of the lighting. It felt like a black and white day.


Because of the time of year, I had the entire area to myself save for the one or two people also out sauntering. I made my way around Gateway Park to an area adorned by several benches. I brushed the water left over from a cold night from the surface of the bench, sat my camera bag down and pulled my journal from its hiding place in the back pocket of my camera bag. From the front pocket I retrieved one of my favorite fountain pens inked with the deepest of black inks to match the black and white mood in which I find myself.

I wrote with abandon, the thoughts pouring from my brain faster than they could be captured by the nib of the fountain pen. as I stopped allowing the ink on the page to dry, I lined my head back and allowed the emerging sun to shower me in its warmth.

Today was a good day.

Business Dealings with Men

With respect,
I have been struggling of late with my new employment. It is with gratitude that I have employment with relatively fair compensation and which affords me the ability to have health insurance but there remains something lacking and it is happiness. For me, happiness in my employment is derived from fulfillment in my daily activities. There is fulfillment in my career but none in my present job. This was a job, had I known the unrealistic challenges, would have been an offer I would not have accepted.
There are moments during the day during which I am able to locate a small modicum of hope that change will follow however slowly, but those moments, as brief as they are, fade often as rapidly as they have arrived.
I sat outside on this beautiful November day thinking thoughts which poured incessantly from my brain. I briefly retreated indoors and retrieved Mr. Thoreau’s journal. I opened it to the day which accurately represents today’s calendar date, November 15th. The difference is in the year. Mr. Thoreau wrote the following entry in 1853, one hundred and sixty-two years ago. The words, while old and while they may also appear outdated are quite reflective of my current status.
 Mr. Thoreau wrote,
“After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined, and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance. I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard, and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, insensible man whom we liken to a rock is indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft.”
This has been one of the more noticeable difficulties as I have had little time to “commune with the rocks.” It is unfortunate that my daily duties cannot be completed away from these men and with the rocks for if this was a possibility, I would certainly accept the invitation. Instead, I take advantage of days such as these and remove myself from the ‘uncomfortable comforts’ of the indoors and retreat outside to the comforts which are provided by Nature.
still the mind
I countered this force, these business dealings with men by going to what I refer to as my “second home.” My schedule, or what I used as an excuse allowed me to not venture homeward. Instead, I remained within the confines of my real home struggling with the thoughts nd feelings which are a part of these “business dealings with men.” This morning, after rising well before my clock suggested I rise, I dressed and went for a run. The skies, still dark from the ending night were cloudless and showed their residents. Before starting my run, I looked up, as I always do in wonder and saw many familiar constellations.  Visibly present in the early morning sky was the planet Jupiter, shining brightly in the early morning sky. If I would have been accompanied by a small telescope, the planet’s four main moons would have also been visible. I settled for this beautiful vision, a vision which reminds me of the insignificance of the life stressors with which I am attempting to manage.
My route, at least for the first three miles of a ten-mile run, was lit by a headlamp showing me the way and illuminating any obstacles which may serve to trip me and cause additional stress. This was one of those runs which found me enjoying the solitude which accompany’s me on most of my early morning runs. Cars and people are few, business dealings with men nonexistent and stress, at least for the moment is low. I ran at my own pace; a pace at which I found comfort within my body; thoughts, other than of what street I might turn, failing to keep up. Shortly after I began, the sun began to accompany me. It’s first whisper of light glowing a dull orange-yellow on the Eastern horizon as a reminder that despite the stresses which I encounter, another day will always dawn. As Thich Nhat Hahn has said, “It is another new 24-hours.”
Another new day will always dawn and there will always be another 24-hour period of time with which to improve our responses to the stressors which have caused us concern.

Sitting outside…

With palms together, I wish you all a good evening.
I sat outside enjoying the beautiful weather wearing a lightweight jacket for additional warmth. My accompaniment was my journal and one of my favorite fountain pens. It is easy for me to get lost in the solitude offered by sitting outside.
All of the trees visible on my street are now void of their leaves save for the few hangers on who have forgotten the seasons have changed and fall is firmly upon us. Or, perhaps they are more like myself and have little desire to be in agreement with the calendar. and wish for longer days and sunshine to remain for a period of time beyond what is dictated in this portion of the country. Letting go for me is not an agreeable option.
The sky is overcast. The sun even at this relatively early hour of 4:20 PM remains visible in the western sky, sinking closer to its nightly hiding place behind the horizon.
I, like the leaves who refuse to leave their comfortable perch, have decided to go against the rule, the social convention, the norm which is accepted by sitting outside and enjoying “what is left of the decent weather” before the winter winds begin to blow bringing with them the arctic chill and much-dreaded snow.
Jack, my faithful companion stands in front of me refusing to sit. Perhaps his reluctance is a result of the cold, damp ground which grows colder as winter marches forward. His head is tilted back, his nose piercing the air, smelling smells which I cannot smell, those scents pushed here and there by the steadily increasing wind.
The sun continues its dip toward the horizon, shadows lengthening…

Humility & Patience

With palms together, I wish you all a good afternoon.
I woke this morning after a fitful night of sleep. It needed to find me or I to find it; either way sleep was not to happen.
It took me several hours of fighting with sleep or perhaps to sleep to realize, or should I say admit the cause of my restlessness was right inside my own head. I work in a profession which I love, for which I share a tremendous passion. That passion, if left unchecked turns into burnout. My problem is I have a tendency when I allow myself to go on autopilot  to miss or perhaps more accurately ignore the signs which lead me down the road to destruction.
I teach mindfulness and pride my own mindfulness practice, but lately this practice has been anything but mindful. Mindless would be more accurate.
Three or four times each year this happens. I allow myself to go on autopilot and neglect to watch the road in front of me. Thoughts speed up and slow down. There are on-ramps and off-ramps all relatively safe if we pay attention to what is ahead of us, on either side of us and behind us. I am usually pretty good at spotting when a breakdown might occur but this time I had taken my eyes off the road for a period of time which was in hindsight, too long. You know what happens next. That’s right, I was involved in an emotional accident. This year it was allowing myself to miss both of my trips to the Adirondacks. The winter trip was missed, well for reasons which I can no longer recall. The summer trip was missed because of many, too many excuses and rationalizations. This summer trip has been greatly missed. These trips, especially the summer trip have been an anchor for more than a decade. When the anchor is lifted, moved or is neglected, the ship will drift. I knew something was wrong when I saw my 4 AM runs dwindle from 5-6 times each week to three times if I was lucky. My alarm sounded and running was never the problem, getting out of bed was. I was emotionally exhausted yet I refused to acknowledge this. I refused to look within. If I had, the answer would have been within arms reach. I would have only had to reach out and grasp it.
Typically we become angry and quickly look around for someone to blame for if we search hard enough there is always someone to blame. Unfortunately, we never look in the right direction as the blame falls squarely on our shoulders. Sure there are other, outside contributing factors but it is our responsibility to pay attention and when we don’t…well it’s safe to say we all know what happens next.
It is important not only for us to pay attention to what lies ahead and around us but to take our proverbial pulse several times each day. I remind patients within my therapy practice of the importance of self-care and forgot about myself.

Forced hibernation…

With palms together, I wish you all a good evening.
It’s almost time…
When you live in the Northeast you don’t need a weather report to understand winter is around the corner; accepting the fact that winter is around the corner is something altogether different. It’s almost time to hibernate. There are those times and this week is forecast to be one of those times where winter plays hide and seek with fall. The temperatures forecast for the week are expected to be in the high sixties; unseasonably warm for this time of year.
Halloween has past. The trees are almost completely bare of their wondrous cover which has been shed after changing to brilliant colors not usually seen in nature. A glance up to the branches overhead identifies a few stragglers holding on in the hope winter will not arrive and the cooler temperatures are in some way a joke. Piles of leaves adorn the front yards of neighboring homes being blown about by the wind which is an almost constant companion this time of year. In addition to the change in clothing, lawnmowers are put away and exchanged for snow shovels and snow throwers. Leaf blowers and rakes are seen and heard throughout the neighborhood. I prefer the latter as they allow for less disturbance and allow me to maintain some semblance of solitude.
For me, the most difficult part of this transition is the change to daylight savings time.
I wouldn’t actually refer to this period as “hibernation”, that period of time from late October through April and sometimes the end of April as “forced.” Many people make a choice to remain indoors and wait out the long cold months to follow. This time of year is unique, not simply for the obvious. Three years ago, while having lunch at a nearby rooftop restaurant, my daughter remarked how we in the Northeast have just a few precious months in which to enjoy the activities enjoyed year round in warmer climates. As depressing as this may be, I see the seasonal changes as an opportunity to slow, become increasingly introspective and enjoy the changes which are brought by fall and winter.
slow down
The temperature outside is 56-degrees yet I sit outside and write. My accompaniment is a fine cigar and a glass of whiskey. The decision to sit outside was a relatively easy one. The sun plays hide and seek behind the cover of clouds. The dull yellow rays play with one’s memory, a memory of the warmer rays of summer sun. These rays do not warm the body but do offer warmth to the soul. A light breeze plays with the leaves, moving them to and fro across the driveway. Those leaves whose time has come and from which all moisture has gone skate across the driveway propelled by an invisible force and sound as though they are skating across invisible ice. I sit outside and type I am wearing a knit hat and fingerless gloves.  Jeans, sweaters, wool hats, and fleece have replaced shorts, sandals and t-shirts as the dress of choice.
My soul belongs outside. Outside is where we were meant to be.There are many things which I enjoy about Fall. The lack of warmth is not one of them. The sounds and sights which, in the Northeast are seen and heard at only this time of year. A friend who resides just 90-minutes to the south of my location has already received several inches of snow. The snow which has fallen on Whiteface Mountain giving proof to it’s name as it is one of the first peaks in the majestic Adirondack Park to receive snow.
There are things I enjoy about the coming winter months, things which I have forced myself to like and even come to enjoy as location, at least for the foreseeable future, is my home. When the snow accumulates to the amount it makes sense to don a small backpack and snowshoes, the beauty and silence afforded one who seeks both of these things is amazing in its restorative powers.
Go outside and explore. One does not need to  travel far to see the hidden treasures which are often closely held secrets within the outdoors; one simply needs to go outside and open one’s eyes. Once open, one needs to see, without judgment the beauty which surrounds us and for me and others like me brings a level of happiness which cannot be found indoors.